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MCCC SMILE/GEARUP Students Make Their Mark in Youth Cyber Defense Competition


TRENTON – A team of high school students from Mercer County Community College’s SMILE/GEAR UP program on the James Kerney Campus in Trenton recently concluded an exceptional round of competition in the eighth season of CyberPatriot – the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition – finishing second in the region.

Through SMILE (Science and Math - Interesting and Learned Easily) and GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), youth participate in math, science, communications, self-development and computer classes with online help, cooperative-learning groups, culturally enriching activities, field trips and interdisciplinary study. The national competition gave the students a chance to showcase their skills.


Members of the MCCC Tech Club participating in the National Youth Cyber Defense Comptition, from left: Kay Dean Grant, Dante Robinson, Rashine Arrington, Christian DeLeon, and Tiani Edwards. Not pictured: Kayleen Martinez, Debra Lawrey.

“The SMILE/GEAR UP Technology Club has excelled this academic year by entering the CyberPatriot National Cyber Education Program,” said Debra Lawrey, Team Coach. “Our students have devoted their time and resources towards developing a better understanding of cybersecurity and computer networking. Their commitment has been unparalleled.”

This was the first year of competition for MCCC SMILE/GEAR UP students.

Established by the Air Force Association, the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program was created to motivate students toward careers in cyber security and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In all, 3,379 teams registered to compete in Cyber Patriot VIII, including 74 teams from NJ.

CyberPatriot’s core program – the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition – challenges teams of two to six students across the United States, Canada, and from DoDD schools abroad, to find and resolve cybersecurity vulnerabilities in simulated environments.





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